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Lecture 5

English 2307E - Lecture 5.docx

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English 2307E
Krista Lysack

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English 2307E Thursday January 23 Lecture 5 Samuel Taylor Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Samuel Taylor Coleridge – “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” • Ballad – a song that tells a story with stock phrases (often repeated lines), a refrain o A literary ballad imitates an orally-transmitted song o A strong narrative with a speaker telling the story o Many of the stanzas are quatrains (but there is some variation) o There is a fairly identifiable rhyme scheme Composition • The meter alternates – it is iambic, but then becomes trochaic at the moment of crisis o Trochaic doesn’t sound very natural in English speech, but it makes us pay attention here (Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink) Wordsworth vs. Coleridge • Coleridge’s views on poetry, Biographia Literaria (p. 491) o He is talking not just about this poem, but his contribution to lyrical ballads o When he and his friend were working together on the poems, they each had their own particular jobs – it wasn’t as if Wordsworth and Coleridge were collaborating on poems, they were each writing their own poems and then combining them • Wordsworth was more interested in writing poetry based on everyday life, whereas Coleridge was more interested in writing with supernatural elements • Coleridge wanted to achieve a suspension of disbelief through his poems • Coleridge’s goal with lyrical ballads was to pull out some truth using disbelief/the supernatural/the extraordinary whereas Wordsworth was trying to discover something moving in the ordinary o Though they had different beginning points, they wanted to get the same thing out of their poems • Wordsworth thought of poetry as a product of replaying the original experience, but Coleridge didn’t see poetry as linked to memory/recollection o Coleridge saw the imagination as unifying – it brings together a unified picture of the world Reception & Interpretive Difficulty • Moral? o This poem seems like it wants to have a moral, but can we derive a stable meaning from it? o We don’t really know what the poem is doing or what we are meant to carry away from it o Today we are more comfortable with a story without a moral purpose, but it would have been frustrating for readers when it was written o Critical Reception (how it was received by early readers and reviewers)  Mrs. Barbauld (an early reader) – she was a poet • She complained that the poem seemed to have no moral (and this seemed to bother her) • It told us a complicated story about a mariner who goes out to sea, shoots an albatross, and then has to suffer the guilt for no particular reason o Possible religious morals:  To love all of the creatures that God has made, great and small (line 610)  Allegory? There seems like there could be a secondary meaning: • Someone has sinned, has to repent, and then is possibly redeemed at the end • The sin: shooting albatrosses (a random act that isn’t really premeditated) • Things that follow the sinful act:
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